Archäologisches Museum Fliess

Impressions from a recent visit to the Archaeological Museum in Fliess. It is actually two museums: one part displays the archaeological finds associated with the pre-historical sacrificial burning sites (1500 BC – 200 AD) and treasure hoards found in the surrounding mountains, the other displays artifacts connected to the Roman Via Claudia Augusta which runs right through the area.

The finds at a Bronze-Age sacrificial altar site include many metal swords and tools, prepared for the spirit world by rendering them useless. Above, swords which had been chopped into segments in order for their “essence” to be sent up to whichever god they was meant for.

One of the oldest metal helmets ever found in Europe — it’s native, Hallstadt Culture, not Roman. It too had been cut apart and bent, one assumes in preparation for sacrifice. The three double blades on the top would have held horse hair a plume.

The level of detail and aesthetic beauty is impressive.

Celtic coins, minted sometime between 150 BC and 200 AD, and probably somewhere between southern Germany and Burgundy. At least two of them (top row, second from left and bottom row, second from right) are Büschel or “tuft” coins; instead of an entire head in profile which is found on many Roman, Greek and Gallic coins, these seem to zoom in on a few locks of hair. The discovery of a cache of old coins can bring one’s thoughts right into the time when they were hidden. Unlike a collection of offerings which may have grown over time, they were probably buried all at once, possibly in a dangerous time and certainly with the hope of retrieval. Something went wrong, and they were forgotten, until found thousands of years later.

The game we call “jacks” is also known as “knucklebones”, and is a very old game indeed. The ancient Greeks played it, and it had certainly been around for a long time already by then. The bones used as game pieces are actually astragalus or talus bones from the ankle.

The Archaeological Museum in Fliess is open from May through October. We were fortunate to have an informed and helpful guide who stayed past closing time in order to give us enough time to see everything and to answer our questions. The museum also runs a small press for the publication of literature on the archaeological finds from the area.

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